Do You Know Your Own Strengths?
We all have different innate talents and strengths. You may be thinking, “Sure – that’s true for others, but not me.” The challenge is that we often don’t realize what our strengths are. We can usually see how someone else is more organized, more patient, or more determined than us, but it can be hard to see our own gifts. Why? It’s because they have always been part of us so we don’t even notice them or see them as anything special. However, research shows it’s worth doing a little work to discover our strengths. When we know and apply our gifts, it increases our life satisfaction and well-being. We can maximize our potential and enjoy better relationships, careers and personal growth.
I remember several years ago when my current manager pointed out to me that I was respected by others for my ability to get along with so many different types of people and how I was usually up-beat and positive. My thoughts were “Really? I would have never thought that was anything special.” Then I took the VIA (values in action) Character Strengths survey and found that my top 5 strengths include gratitude (very helpful in maintaining a positive attitude) and fairness and honesty (very helpful in getting along with others). My other two top strengths were love and appreciation of beauty and excellence.
How can you take action to identify your strengths? First of all, you can ask others that know you. Ask them what they think you do well and why you are able to do it so well. It’s not just about what you did, but what strength you were using when you did it. Also, you can take the VIA Character Strengths survey at www.viame.org. It is offered for free through the VIA Institute on Character, a non-profit that creates your personal profile based on 24 different strengths.
Keep your strengths in mind and try to find ways to use them. Maybe its the way you approach a project, the way you interact with others, the types of work you look for (ex. within your current job or as a volunteer), or the way you look at life in general. When we learn about ourselves and remember to follow what energizes us, we can accomplish more and live a happier, more authentic life.